Extra Credit: Linda Weintraub Presentation by Joseph Duy Nguyen

I attended the extra credit presentation by Linda Weintraub on the Tuesday of 8th week at the Broad Art Center. Her presentation is titled Drop Dead Gorgeous: Beauty and the Aesthetics of Activism. She discusses a variety of topics but the gist of her presentation was that beauty can be defined in many ways. The most common definition she gave us is that people define beauty by the physical outer appearance. That I agree with her. People nowadays tend to judge people by their outer physical appearance. For example, if someone dresses really nice and spiffy, people tend to get the impression that he is well-mannered. Likewise, if someone is dressed scraggly, people will think of him as an unpleasant man. This same type of concept applies to beauty. Weintraub talks about society’s perception of beauty for some time in the beginning of her presentation.

From the introduction of society’s perception of beauty, Weintraub transitioned to different artists’ perception of beauty. There were quite a few, but two artists stood out the most for me. Those two artists are Andy Goldsworthy and Damien Hirst. Goldsworthy’s artwork consists mainly of artworks constructed on site. Weintraub showed us a few of his artwork, which somewhat interested me. After the lecture I went back to my room and actually looked up Goldsworthy and found many more of his artworks. There were some very amazing pieces. I like his Yorkshire Sculpture Park piece the most. I find that his artwork truly shows his genius. He is able to think on site and create art with what nature provides him. The same can be said of Damien Hirst. Hirst shows his creative side by doing something is against society’s perception. Most artists try to create a piece of artwork that is pleasing to the majority of the audience. Hirst does almost the exact opposite. His artwork is disgusting and unpleasant to the majority of society. I think Hirst thinks of beauty more in term of function than appearance. His artworks mostly consist of dead corpses arranged in thematic ways. His artwork with a rotting cow head stood out the most for me. Who would have thought of that possibly being an artwork? Artists should think outside the box. When I say outside the box, I mean outside of the context of society. Artists should not be restricted to how society feels and thinks about certain topics. That is my perception of how art should be addressed. I’m a science major so maybe my way of thinking is different from artists but that is my two-piece.

Weintraub then goes on to discuss how we should think of beauty in terms of how it can improve the environment. For her, artwork should be valued and created based on the function it does for the environment. I guess she is more of an environmentalist-artist than media artist. Some people in the audience did not totally agree with her and stated their opinion. It’s nice how the people who didn’t agree with everything she said expressed their view in a polite manner instead of just straight out denouncing her ideology. For me, I got confused on where the borderline between being an environmentalist and being an artist. Overall, I think the presentation was worthwhile to hear, considering she is a guest speaker to UCLA in general.

Yorkshire Sculpture Garden by Andy Goldsworthy

Yorkshire Sculpture Garden by Andy Goldsworthy

Dead cow head by Damien Hirst.

Dead cow head by Damien Hirst.

-Joseph Duy Nguyen

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